St. Lucia’s Tourism Minister Shares the Island’s Hottest News
The Village Tourism project and the upcoming 2019 Saint Lucia Jazz Festival were among the hot topics addressed Tuesday night by Dominic Fedee, St. Lucia’s tourism minister, during a media event in New York City.
Here’s what Fedee had to say about those topics and other news coming out of St. Lucia from the air to the land, to the sea.
“We are not just a warm-weather destination,” said Fedee, “we are not just a winter destination, we are not just a beach destination. There is so much.”
Attracting the Experiential Client
Fedee, as he has done a lot of lately, again addressed the unique Village Tourism project, a concept that perhaps represents the minister’s most passionate ongoing initiative.
It involves using the island’s sharing economy to create cultural and experiential offerings for tourists looking to live like a local during their vacation in St. Lucia.
The St. Lucia’s tourism department has earmarked eight communities nationally for the development of the Village Tourism program with the aim of promoting linkages between onshore businesses and other sectors of the economy.
The idea is to convert each of the communities into a tourism destination, highlighting its unique culture, cuisine, heritage and history.
Fedee said the program will be overseen by a company called Village Tourism, Inc. Fedee said that officials who make up Village Tourism, Inc. will be established at the end of November. He likened the company to that of a resort management company. It will oversee the program’s room stock, interior decorating, safety issues, security, marketing issues and general standards, Fedee said.
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Ahead of the launch of the program, Fedee said efforts are being made to further improve the island’s infrastructure, including the investment of $200 million to improve St. Lucia’s roadways.
“We need to offer the world more than just hotel rooms,” Fedee told attendees.
But that doesn’t mean improving the quality of the island’s hotels has gone ignored. In fact, Fedee said efforts are being undertaken to expand the island’s dam with the goal of improving the water systems at St. Lucia’s many resorts.
Jazz Festivals Tickets Now on Sale
Tickets are now on sale for the 2019 Saint Lucia Jazz Festival Produced in Collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center, which will showcase more than a dozen performances from Sunday, May 4 through Sunday, May 12.
Through a first-time collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center, the week-long festival features five Artists-In-Residence, some of the finest names in modern jazz, performing in intimate venues and public settings throughout St. Lucia.
“We started attracting investors [to the island] roughly 30 years, but then we realized we had a problem and that problem was no one knew about St. Lucia,” said Fedee, “and we figured how do we make people hear about the island. We thought, ‘Well, let’s create a Jazz festival,’ and so here we are 32 years later, the Caribbean’s best jazz festival.”
Ticket prices begin at $40 per person and guests will receive a 20 percent discount if purchased before March 31. To purchase tickets, learn more about performances and find out about travel packages, visit www.stlucia.org/jazzfestival.
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Island Readies for Increase in Air Passengers
Fedee said the redevelopment of the island’s Hewanorra International Airport will get underway in the weeks ahead. This announcement follows the official sod turning ceremony held at the grounds of the proposed airport site on February 24 in Beanfield Vieux Fort.
The Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) formally introduced the project masterplan estimated at $175 million dollars, which will significantly improve airside and airfield operations. Fedee said this will give St. Lucia the opportunity to host about one million passengers at Hewanorra. Currently, that airport can accommodate about 300,000 passengers, he said.
The project also includes a new air traffic control tower elevating more than 100 feet, five new parking aprons with connecting air bridges to a 337,000 square-foot terminal building and a new road infrastructure, and traffic management system.
March Could See New Cruise Record for Island
March is expected to be a record-breaking period in St. Lucia’s cruise sector, according to St. Lucia tourism representatives.
Between Friday, March 1, and Sunday, March 3, 12 cruise vessels, including the inaugural call of Crystal Esprit, brought an estimated combined capacity of 19,052 travelers to the destination. An additional 125,434 travelers are expected to cruise to the island through March 31, according to tourism representatives.
With St. Lucia’s capacity to welcome Vista, Quantum and Freedom Class vessels, cruise increased by 13.6 percent in 2018.
“We are at real high right now in St. Lucia,” said Fedee. “And we have everything in place to keep that going for a long time.”